Our idea was simple – what SUV makes a better buy to avoid the throng for Hyundai Creta? In this competitive space, there are (or were) formidable players like Renault Duster/Captur, Mahindra XUV500, Nissan Kicks, and Maruti Suzuki S-Cross. But what about a thoroughly modern SUV, like the ones we have here – the MG Astor and Volkswagen Taigun. Both these SUVs are global offerings with many similarities, and an equal number of differences as well. Let’s dive deeper to see which one should you buy?
Looks and Dimensions
For an SUV bagging around Rs 20 lakh, you’d surely want it to look the part. Of the two, the Astor ticks the right boxes. Standing at 4,323 x 1,809 x 1,650mm, the Astor is slightly bigger than the Taigun which measures 4,221 x 1,760 x 1,612mm. And it’s evident when both are placed next to each other. Even though the Taigun has a longer wheelbase (2,651mm against Astor’s 2,585mm), the VW design carries clean-cut lines wrapped in a compact footprint. In comparison, the Astor is more flamboyant in its curvaceous stance.
Both have a generous amount of chrome bits as well. The real talking point for the Taigun’s design is the black slat with integrated tail lamps, looking like a cummerbund. Whereas Astor’s segmented LED in the tail lamp resembles the eye of a videogame villain. Both these SUVs have a different take on styling. That is, at a dinner party the Taigun would show up in a plain white shirt over a formal trouser, perhaps a dark two-piece suit with minimal accessories. Meanwhile, Astor would flaunt a polo t-shirt with a double-breasted coat, loose pants and white sneakers.
Inside the cabin
Similar to their dinner party attire, both these contenders take a completely different approach to the cabin layout. The Taigun has a very practical, no-nonsense design with great ergonomics and built-to-last quality. The Astor is a tad ostentatious with scarlet upholstery and a concoction of different textured materials. With light coloured materials, the Taigun feels airier compared to the snugged cabin of the Astor. Also, the wide centre console of the Astor results in reduced space for the driver’s left leg.
Noticeably, the steering position of the Astor is slightly offset to the driver’s seat. In comparison, the Taigun provides better visibility and an overall sense of space. The soft-touch materials in the Astor feel nice but Taigun’s hard plastic will definitely last longer than look pretty.
The Astor’s steering wheel appears a tad smaller in circumference. Even the buttons on it could do with a better feel to them, like on the Taigun where the buttons have a solid tactile feel. In the Taigun, there’s an all-digital driver’s display but with negative space on either side that’s squandered. Thankfully, the middle screen is configurable to a degree. Meanwhile, the Astor’s unit isn’t remarkable either. The MID has a standard picture of a white-coloured Astor which can get quite boring to look at endlessly. Then, the digital speedometer and tachometer are difficult to read on the move.
The front-row seats in the Astor are quite comfortable offering the right support and electric adjustment as well. The Taigun seats aren’t half bad either and with more degree of movement in the manual seats, it’s easier to find the correct driving position. Move to the back, and there’s an unanticipated surprise. With the Astor, the seats – in contrast to the front ones – are slightly harder and offer very little under-thigh support.
The middle passenger will have a tough time settling comfortably, owing to the protruding seat contours. But there’s decent headroom and knee-room for my size and the panoramic sunroof takes the ambience up a notch. Shift to the Taigun and the peculiar shape of the seat base is sure to catch your attention. It’s rounded towards the end. So rounded that if you are sitting behind the driver, only the right leg would struggle for under-thigh support. That apart, the Taigun is a better place to spend long hours in. It’s a spacious cabin (thanks to clever measures like roof scoop), that is easier to get in and has large, soft, and comfortable seats.
Lastly, the loading lip in Taigun is lower compared to the Astor and the boot itself is deep and usable with lesser intrusions. However, the bay is flat in Astor but isn’t very deep and it gets narrower to accommodate the rear wheel arches. Adding to the practicality in both are 60:40 split seats.
This is the GT trim of the Taigun that’s loaded to the brim with features like 17-inch alloy wheels, LED DRLs, ambient lighting, digital instrument cluster, auto AC, electric sunroof, keyless entry and start, steering-mounted control along with wireless charger and auto-dimming IRVM. The Astor’s Sharp (O) trim is festooned with all those features as well, but there’s no wireless charger and auto-dimming IRVM here — a letdown especially when the Astor is so tech-savvy.
In terms of safety, both get six airbags, ESP with brake assist, hill hold control, ISOFIX, rain-sensing wipers, and TPMS. Where the Taigun settles for a rear-view camera, the Astor also offers a 360-degree camera setup. However, we found this to be subpar in terms of quality and picture clarity. Also, there’s an integrated PM2.5 air filter in the Astor.
Both cars offer a 10-inch touchscreen but in the Taigun, the screen is much more modern, crisp, and quick to respond than the VWs of old. The Astor’s unit does take time to get used to. It has many integrated functions that can be too much at times. And the touch on this system isn’t the best in business either. Gratefully, the Astor provides conventional USB-A ports while the VW has adopted Type-C only ports.
A first-in-segment debut brought in by Astor is AI and Level 2 autonomous driving credentials. There are 14 features in the ADAS, which is a novel addition that is just starting to catch attention in India. This ADAS system is surprisingly useful and works well too. Most of the Level 2 autonomous system can be activated on expressways where it can control speed in adaptive cruise control or depending on the road signs and can assist in keeping the lanes. Moreover, the cutesy AI bot which sits on the dashboard can carry out simple functions and also tell jokes or facts from the internet whenever you call out its name. It’s a neat party piece and we hope to see something similar in many more cars.
Both the Astor and Taigun have completely different engine characteristics and are poles apart in their road manners. The Astor’s 1.3-litre engine is dubbed as 220Turbo owing to its 220Nm twisting force. Its power is rated 138bhp, channelled through a torque converter. Belonging to the new TSI Evo family, the 1.5-litre four-banger in the Taigun produces 10bhp and 30Nm more and is paired to the renowned yet much-improved DSG.
Against the VBox, the Astor posted a 0-100kmph sprint time of 9.30 seconds, with the Taigun at 8.80 seconds. In the roll-on acceleration test, the Taigun proved to be quicker once again, taking 5.28 seconds compared to 5.53 seconds that Astor took to accelerate from 20kmph to 80kmph. However, this marginal difference is amplified in the 40-100kmph test where the Astor took 7.93 seconds and the Taigun was quicker at 6.24 seconds.
The three-cylinder 220Turbo feels quick and refined off the mark. Its vibrations are felt and heard only when the revs climb and it does lose wind past 4,000rpm. Thankfully there’s no erratic shove when the turbo spools up, making it a good city and highway prowler. On to the Taigun, its TSI motor remains smooth and refined through and through. It’s linear, free-revving, and progressive. This GT variant is the only one with DSG in Taigun and is smooth and quite slick, even in lower RPMs.
As for the ride quality, the Taigun has a European feel with an underlying stiffness. It’s a bit noisy and you can hear the suspension working, but it absorbs everything on the road with good composure. Vertical movements are quite controlled, unlike the Astor where it weaves slightly over undulations. Even the steering is superb in the Taigun with good heft, quick turn-in but can feel heavy for city commutes. Differing from that, the Astor’s steering is extremely light, and vague off the centre. It might be convenient to drive in the city but needs correction at highway speeds.
Benefitting from the cylinder-deactivation technology and a weight deficit of almost 60kg (tipping scale at 1320kg), the Taigun delivered an impressive fuel efficiency of 12.19kmpl in the city and 20.1kmpl on the highway. On the contrary, the turbo-petrol engine in the Astor delivered drastically lower figures of 8.7kmpl and 14.8kmpl, respectively.
Verdict and Score
MG Astor 220Turbo AT
Final Score – 375/600
On-road Price – Rs 20.90 lakh
At first, it looked like a close fight, with Astor packing in more heft in its punch. What worked in Astor’s favour was striking exterior design, better front-seat comfort, modern tech-savvy features including ADAS, which are likeable by many buyers. But despite scoring higher in the ‘in cabin’ section, it missed out on crucial points in driving performance, refinement, efficiency, and rear-seat comfort. It indeed looks bigger and better than the Taigun, and the Astor makes a compelling buy for those who’d be spending more time in the back seat or admiring its new-age features on offer. It’s basically a chic-looking SUV that’s easier to drive rather than involving, with some party piece to flaunt.
Final Score – 401/600
On-road Price – Rs 21.21 lakh
In a typical Volkswagen fashion, the Taigun has an upper hand in terms of driving dynamics. It’s also surprisingly spacious on the inside despite the compact footprint (it’s got a longer wheelbase though). It’s also well-built on the inside with an ergonomic cabin that’s comfortable for longer hauls. Now, those looking for a great value in their SUV would love the appeal of Taigun’s advanced TSI powertrain along with slick and quick DSG gearbox, paddle shifters, and better steering and ride by a considerable margin. It might not be swanky but the Taigun makes a compelling buy for those who prefer to remain understated and age well.
Pictures by Kapil Angane
|CAR NAME||MG Astor||Volkswagen Taigun|
|Variant||220Turbo Sharp (O)||GT 1.5 DCT|
|Displacement||3 cylinders, 1,349cc||4 cylinders, 1,498cc|
|Power||138 bhp @ 5,600 rpm||148 bhp @ 5,000 rpm|
|Torque||220 Nm @ 3,600 rpm||250 Nm @ 1,600 rpm|
|Power to weight||100bhp per tonne||112.12bhp per tonne|
|Torque to weight||159.42Nm per tonne||189.39Nm per tonne|
|Gearbox||6-speed AT||7-speed DCT|
|CHASSIS & BODY|
|Kerb weight (measured)||1,380kg||1,320kg|
|Tyres||215/55 R17||205/55 R17|
|Type||Rack and pinion||Electromechanical (power assisted)|
|Type of assist||Electric||Electric|
|CAR NAME||MG Astor||Volkswagen Taigun|
|Variant||220Turbo Sharp (O)||GT 1.5 DCT|
|PERFORMANCE & BRAKING|
|100-0kmph||45.18m at 3.22 secs||40.66m at 2.96 secs|
|Seat base length||460mm||480mm|
|Loading lip height||810mm||720mm|
|Parameters||Max points||MG Astor||Volkswagen Taigun|
|Feeling of space||20||13||14|
|Rear seat ingress||20||15||15|
|IN THE CABIN|
|Feel of quality||20||12||12|
|Service cost calculator||10||5||5|